2012 Fantasy Baseball Round-Up: Astros, Indians, Nationals, Padres, Phillies, Twins and More

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Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins: It’s going to be a tough year, Twins fans. As an Orioles fan, let me suggest you take solace in the little things, mostly Denard Span. This game was all Cleveland, as Derek Lowe got the complete game shutout without registering a K. Lowe has looked like a different pitcher this year. While his GBs are up, his strand rate has masked a 1.00 K:BB rate and 1.50 WHIP. It’s going to get messy and get messy fast, with an ERA north of 4.50 ROTW. He’ll be borderline unownable from now on, so trade him for anything useful if you can. Shin-soo Choo led-off and went 2/4 with a homer. He has a .245 average and .371 OBP. He’s a good player, stop trying to drop/trade him.

Houston Astros at Philadelphia PhilliesChad Qualls did what Chad Qualls does: ruined a perfectly good outing by a starting pitcher (in this case Cliff Lee). In a surprise start, Jordan Lyles was called up for the Astros and thereby passed the 100 minimum MLB IP threshold in my dynasty league, so I have to activate him. I’ve been all over Lyles in deeper leagues and think he’ll ultimately stick in that rotation. He has the real chance to spin a 7 K/9 rate. Sure, he’ll walk a good bit, maybe 2.95 per nine, but will be a solid pitcher in deep formats. SHOCKER: Brad Mills brought Brett Myers into a non-save situation in the bottom of the 10th against the heart of the Phillies order. The Astros seem to be doing some smart things down there. Of course, it didn’t exactly work out as Hunter Pence yanked a liner out to left; it was gone in like 2.3 seconds (unofficially). Off the bat, there was legitimate concern it wouldn’t be high enough to clear the fence, but Myers became the goat and Pence the hero.

San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals: The Padres got to Stephen Strasburg early in a rare poor start from the young phenom. Speaking of phenoms, immature bratty Bryce Harper went yard, just enjoy it people. Yonder Alonso scored a run and collected an RBI. While Alonso won’t continue to bat .361 on balls in play, he is posting decent swinging strike, K and BB percentages. If he can continue similar paces, you’re looking at a .275/.355/.415 line the rest of the way. He’ll add 10 HRs and five steals as well. That line screams corner infielder in deep leagues.  Quietly, Will Venable is up to .280/.353/.411 on the year and healthy. He’ll never bat well, but a .260 average and 12 HRs and 18 SBs the rest of the season are possible.

Chicago Cubs at St. Louis CardinalsPaul Maholm pitched “aight” because that’s what he does. Matt Holliday hit his seventh HR because that’s what he does. And Kyle Lohse got hit hard because that’s what batters do against pitchers like Lohse. This contest turned into a bullpen battle, which favors you know who. James Russell had a tough outing, giving up a surprising home run to a lefty (Matt Carpenter) and then a triple to a righty (Tyler Greene). And, of course because it’s 2012, Jason Motte gave up a line-drive no-doubter to Alfonso Soriano to tie the game in the ninth. Rafael Dolis got the call in the bottom of the ninth and gave up a lead-off single to Holliday. Holliday got to second on a groundout and scored the winning run on a single through the hole between first and second by Yadier Molina. Aside from Holliday’s AB, Dolis looked pretty good. That said, nothing in his numbers suggests he’s ready to be a big time relief pitcher.

Detroit Tigers at Chicago White SoxJake Peavy flirted with disaster all game long and decided to consummate the relationship in the 6th in a thumping fashion (two-run HR from Miguel Cabrera and three-run HR from Ryan Raburn). Then Will Ohman came on and gave up another three-run HR, this one to Austin Jackson. Remember when Ohman was the Orioles closer for a hot minute? That was weird. The Tigers then continued whooping up on the White Sox, ultimately showing who the top cats are in the Central. See what I did there? That said, the grandest cat of them all, closer Jose Valverde, left the game with a sore lower back. It's unclear whether there is long-term damage here or whether Leyland will turn to Octavio Dotel or Joaquin Benoit. If you have to speculate, grab the guy who can get both righties and lefties out (Benoit). That said, you can’t ignore the “closer experience” label on Dotel.

Seattle Mariners at Boston Red Sox:  Josh Beckett looked good (60/93 pitches for strikes) and the Mariners offense looked bad. Shocking, I know. David Ortiz hit another home run and continues to mash. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is now up to .261, look out, he's becoming a solid catcher option. Ichiro got two hits, stole two bases and his teammates combined for two hits, blech.

Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Another poor hitting AL West team, another snoozer. Ervin Santana owned the A's, locating a lot of pitches and working into the 8th. Santana's K's are still down but he's getting those ground balls. ROTW: He's not out of the woods yet, but is safe to start against the dregs of his division. Of note is that Scott Downs picked up Santana in the 8th, before giving way for the last out to Ernesto Frieri in the 9th. Mike Trout hit a homer and stole a base, he has three of each on the year. I kind of hope the Angels finish a game out of first, serves 'em right for keeping Trout away from baseball fans. Not much on the A's side. Kila Ka'aihue got a hit and is sitting at .289/.349/.434. 

Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays: Some wretched strike calls in the 9th got Fernando Rodney through the inning quickly and without issue. It should be said that Jose Molina got called out in the top of the frame on what looked like a pitch well off the plate. Molina didn’t argue. Brett Lawrie, meanwhile, went ballistic after he got jobbed on two calls. He just might get suspended. Sometimes baseball is lame, usually when it involves the "human element." Henderson Alvarez was rolling until the 7th. He got nipped by some poor fielding and the long ball. With how hard he throws and the amount of ground balls he gets, he should be better. At the moment, he's really just an Ervin Santana type (sad face). Edwin Encarnacion hit another homer, thank whatever deity was responsible for me choosing him on my HR-only team. Ben Zobrist kept his hot hitting with a 3/5 day. 

New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles: Take that Jeffrey Maier. I suppose the Yankees won’t toast the jack-off who helped the Yanks to their only runs of the night the same way they did Maier. Anyway, Jim Johnson closed the door on the Yankees and he's looking like one of the only reliable closers out there. It's insane. Adam Jones hit another HR (god bless the Erik Bedard trade). Matt Wieters hit another double:  Orioles Magic. J.J. Hardy also doubled (god bless the relievers-with-no-names trade with the Twins). Xavier Avery got a start and should fill in admirably with Nolan Reimold on the shelf. With a little creativity, I can get Avery to a .270 average and 25 SBs. He's a nice target in deep leagues. Don't look now but old man Alex Rodriguez stole his fourth bag of the year. He's hitting .286/.387/.421. Mark Teixeira went 1/4 to raise his line to .232/.285/.399. Yep, still rather have Paul Konerko.

Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets: things didn’t go so well for Dillon Gee as he deserved the Scarlett L in this game. He has a 4.78 ERA, but a 3.82 FIP and 3.08 xFIP; ROTW: 4.25 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 7.45 K/9 rate.  Meanwhile Zack Greinke deserved the varsity W in this outing, shutting down a weak Mets offense. David Wright got two hits and that's about it for bright spots, as he was eventually pulled from the game to avoid being hit by a pitch in retaliation for the Mets hitting Ryan Braun. The Mets struck out 10 times and reached base six times. What do you know? Rickie Weeks got off the bench and hit a homer. It's time to acquire him everywhere, trust me. 

Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves: Tim Hudson allowed a lot of base runners but only surrendered two runs en route to the victory. Johnny Cueto wasn’t so lucky as six of his base runners scored (one was an unearned run). Brian McCann hit his 6th HR, he's fine people, really. Jason Heyward hit a double and is posting an intriguing .252/.348/.463 line. Heyward ROTW: .260/.368/.440 with 15 HRs and 14 SBs. Jay Bruce hit another double and is straight raking it. That said, it's doubtful his ISO (.333) is going to continue. He's posting a high (20.4%) HR/FB rate and is really selling out for FBs. At a certain point they'll stop clearing the fence and his batting average will suffer. ROTW for Bruce: .255/.332/.485 with 22 HRs. 

Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins: Josh Johnson got off the snide and shut down a shutdown-able offense. I still maintain that the only question with Johnson is health, you can bank a 2.95 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 rate ROTW, but the innings are the question. Andrew McCutchen got a hit, a walk, a run and a SB…ho-hum. Hanley Ramirez hit a couple of doubles and Omar Infante had four hits off Kevin Correia. And, of course, if someone is going to hit a ball out of Marlins Park, it’s going to be Michael McKenry, right?

Kansas City Royals at Texas Rangers: Vin Mazzaro worked around a ton of base runners to get the victory. Colby Lewis couldn’t work around a bunch of base runners and a few errors on the other side of the ledger. Mike Moustakas hit a homer and is having an impressive year. Greg Holland came on in the ninth after Brandon Snyder (a total grab in deep leagues) hit a homer to bring the game to three runs and Holland got the final out. Nothing special here, just that if elite middle relievers are ownable, see if someone dropped Holland and scoop him up.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers: Things didn’t go well for Chad Billingsley and Javy Guerra pitched the fifth, so those two have fallen pretty far, pretty fast. Jason Kubel continues trouncing National League pitching and has been a huge asset. Justin Upton collected a hit and a walk to bring his line to .227/.319/.336. While his K% is up, it’s no different than 2009-2010 and he isn’t swinging and missing any more than he did last year. So far, pitchers aren’t working him any differently and his batted ball rates seem normal, yet his BABIP is a bit under expectation. ROTW, Upton is a .280/.367/.495 hitter with 22 HRs and 18 SBs. Wade Miley shut down an incredibly punchless Dodgers line-up. Going forward, don’t expect much of this, unless he can keep facing AA hitters.

Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum struck out a hitter an inning and limited base runners, yet still allowed four runs. Go figure, baseball’s a funky game. I suggest you go out an acquire Lincecum if you can, he’ll be good for a 3.15 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 9.75 K/9 rate ROTW. Gregor Blanco got another start and batted leadoff. In deep leagues, Blanco is absolutely worth a grab, as he could bat .270 with 20 more SBs. Of course, he could also hit .230 with five SBs and lose the job. Still, the potential is worth speculating on. Santiago Cassila allowed a homer to Marco Scutaro off all people to get the loss. Rafael Betancourt worked around a few base runners to get the save. Bullpens suck.

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Written by Albert Lang exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com

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